Renato Podestà works in the mainstream tradition that has been carried on by such class acts as Joe Cohn, Peter Leitch and Peter Bernstein. The 40-year old guitarist from Piacenza, Italy furthermore admires John Scofield. Scofield’s influence is less pervasive, although Podestà’s boogaloo version of Gershwin’s Fascinating Rhythm references Scofield’s forays into funk territory. Podestà also occasionally flavours his style with reverb and dirty bent notes, which one might safely interpret as a restrained and legitimate tip of the hat to the great Sco.
On his debut album Foolish Little Dreams Podestà successfully transforms an eclectic bunch of songs into a single coherent whole. His chosen format of the organ trio features organist Gianluca Di Ienno and drummer Roberto Lupo. Happy Feet connects Podestà’s fluent statements with the upbeat rhythm of New Orleans and gypsy jazz. Podestà goes forth as a mighty blues man during Oliver Nelson’s nifty Butch And Butch. The blues is as universal as café latte and the guitarist’s virile mingling of its feeling with sixteenth notes definitely has worked out beautifully.
Podestà’s interpretation of Billy Strayhorn’s Blood Count is not as convincing as the renditions of Duke Ellington or Stan Getz, but he conjures up a fairly spooky atmosphere. His slow and reverberating original composition Bolero is an all-out sinister affair that would fit snugly on the soundtracks of the creepy movies of Dario Argento or Lucio Fulci. Podestà’s acute phrasing and vivid lines just about save it from being mere mood music.
Foolish Little Dreams presents not one but two sparkling rabbits in the hat. The trio fluently tackles the tricky time sequence of Bill Evans’ Five and nearly accomplishes a similar amount of swing as on the legendary pianist’s debut version of 1956. Di Ienno’s Heartbeat Sweet is reminiscent of the keyboard-heavy tunes of Paul and Carla Bley. The organist’s meandering phrases are lovely sounds of surprise and underscored by drawbar settings that duplicate the ambience of vintage ARP and Korg synthesizers. Podestà’s crunchy motives effectively pour the adventurous compositional parts in concrete.
There is plenty of stretch in Podestà’s tasteful guitar/organ combo.
Happy Feet; Five; Blood Count; Fascinating Rhythm; Butch And Butch; Bolero; Heartbeat Sweet; Exactly Like You (45.20)
Podestà (g); Gianluca Di Ienno (org); Roberto Lupo (d); Sandro Gibellini (g, 8). Milan, 30 & 31 January 2017. (1-7); Manerba del Garda, 7 March, 2017 (8).
Irma Records 1757